I can’t believe September is almost here and kids are going back to school. It has been a lovely summer. We spent July in Toronto and then most of August in India, visiting family. With all the travel and excitement, I feel as if I am getting thrown into the whirlwind. At least I have my ultimate checklist of 12+ Back to School tips.
Back To School Tips – the Ultimate Checklist
Back to school is a stressful time for both kids and parents and one of the ways I hang on to sanity is through my trusty lists. Obsessive much? And with 5 years of experience under my belt, you can trust that my lists ROCK! This one with 12+ back-to-school tips is the ultimate checklist for getting organized for September. So here goes!
Start With The Clothes
1. Have a look through the kids’ closets. Do the clothes fit? Too long, snug, short? Both my kids have grown like weeds over the summer. It’s all the yummy food and drink at grandparents’ in India. Nani ke ghar jayenge, lambe ho kar aayenge. (Old Hindi saying that literally means kids will return from a visit to their grandparents’ home much, much taller)
2. Is your child starting Kindergarten? Take a closer look at the clothes from a 4-year-old’s point of view. Can she fasten the pants on her own? I avoid bows, pretty buckles, hooks and reserve the frills for the weekend. When my younger one started Junior KG last year even the button and zip combo was too much for her and I ended up buying new clothes in the second week of school.
Tips for Buying Backpacks
3. The backpack has to be the right size, fit and light enough to be comfortable for developing backs. It also needs to be large enough to fit a lunch bag, a library book and the diary for the little ones in Kindergarten. The pockets should be flexible and accessible to tiny hands with a sturdy zipper. For older kids, the backpack needs to be large enough to fit a binder and possibly a laptop.
My kids are going back to school this year with last year’s backpacks. Even though my oldest thinks her childhood is forever deprived (and so begins the tween angst) my frugal heart simply cannot get rid of bags that are in such good shape. If you’re doing the same then check the backpacks for torn seams and broken zippers. You can always buy a new backpack halfway through the school year.
4. Stationery. Start with what you have from last year and in your desk. Younger kids only need a pencil, sharpener, eraser, a few crayons and markers. Go less rather than more and consider the weight on their backs. That’s a big back to school tip and it WORKS!
Making Sense of The Chaos
5. Get a calendar so that you are prepared to note the swim days, gym, library, music and everything else that starts from Day 1. An erasable calendar like this one from Melissa & Doug worked really well for us last year. It’s also made with natural materials that are good for the planet.
6. Folders to organize forms. In many schools in North America, parents get about a thousand forms in the first week. That onslaught of paper continues throughout the year. Folders help manage the chaos.
7. Lunch boxes are a big part of back-to-school shopping. I have big concerns about the plastic that we bring into our home, starting with the food storage containers. At the same time, plastic is light and easy to carry, so it has found a place in my kitchen as long as it meets the criteria on my checklist. Also, consider a thermos flask for older kids for warm lunches.
8. Lunch bags with thermal insulation that are easy to open and clean. Inside mesh pockets for napkins and cutlery are useful for school.
9. I’ve learnt my lesson with water bottles many years ago when the cutest bottle I bought ended up with mildew on the inside of the base! Look for simple, easy to open and wash, light in weight and of course metal.
10. Bookmark some recipes on Pinterest and online so you’re ready for that first week when kids are tired and need a little bit more TLC than usual. I re-purpose leftovers – keema-roti (mincemeat curry with naan) becomes Indian-style Spaghetti Bolognese. Eggplant fritters and savoury pancakes make great lunch box additions along with vegetable sticks or berries and yoghurt.
11. Get a rotisserie chicken on the first day of school. You will thank me when kids are cranky and hungry at 5 pm. Check out my kitchen timesavers for easy and healthy shortcuts in the kitchen.
The Last Week Of Summer
12. While school for many of my friends in the US has already begun, in Canada the first day falls on the first Tuesday in September after Labour Day. Getting organized the week before really helps to get the family on track for the start of early morning hustle. Sleep time and meals scheduled around the school bell help with the adjustment. Early to bed and early to rise is a good mantra for that week.
As we count down the days to the start of school, I know the last couple of weeks will be the biggest hurdle in our home. The summer months have been all about slow days, late mornings, travel and family time. Now it’s time to get back into the rhythm of school, and I’m looking forward to it. What about you?
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